NEW DELHI: The appellate tribunal against money laundering on Friday directed fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi and others, accused of siphoning off Rs 6498.20 crore from PNB and UBI consortium, not to dispose or create third party interest in their 21 immovable properties.
Justice Manmohan Singh, chairman of Appellate Tribunal on Prevention of Money Laundering Act, said Nirav Modi is "not trustworthy" as he had fled from the country, and banks' right to recover the public money has to be protected.
Granting relief to PNB and UBI consortium, Justice Singh said, "As far as the interim order at present sought by the appellant Punjab National Bank is concerned. I am of the considered view that strong prima-facie case has been made out against Nirav Modi, Ami Nirav Modi and others who are liable to the same with regard to 21 properties."
"Under these circumstances, I direct that the respondent (Nirav Modi and others) shall maintain the status quo in relation to the said property and particularly Nirav Modi, Ami Nirav Modi and other respondents shall not dispose of or create third party interest in respect of 21 immovable properties having fair market value of Rs 532.72 crore were personally attached of the said respondent here as the prima facie, I am of the view that the bank is entitled to receive the amount after sale proceeds," Justice Singh said.
Referring to the gamut of the matter, the tribunal said it was of the view that Nirav Modi was not "trustworthy who ran away from this country after cheating the banks and citizens of this country. The Government through various agencies have taken many steps to bring him back to home country."
It noted that there was an apprehension that Nirav Modi may try to alter the present status of movable and immovable properties and said the public sector banks, who have been cheated by him, are victim parties.
"Their money is a clean money, it must come to the banks. Most of these are public sector banks. It is the public money," the tribunal said.
The PNB and UBI consortium have filed the appeal in the tribunal seeking maintenance of the "status quo" in relation to all the properties owned by Nirav Modi and others who have been made accused in cases lodged by CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
As per the CBI's FIR, three firms -- M/s Diamond RUS, M/s Solar Export and M/s Stellar Diamond -- were involved in the banking fraud and siphoned off money Rs 2210.61 crore, Rs 2215.88 crore and Rs 2134.71 crore respectively.
The funds were obtained by these firms by cheating PNB bank to fraudulently obtain Letter of undertakings (LOUs), it said, adding, "The total proceeds of crime in respect of all the said three Nirav Modi firms/entities arrived at Rs 6498.20 crore.
The tribunal, while granting interim relief to Banks, issued notices to ED, Nirav Modi and others and fixed the appeal of banks for final disposal on December 10.
An FIR was lodged by the CBI on the complaint of PNB, alleging that three Nirav Modi firms have fraudulently got issued a total of 150 LOUs aggregating to Rs 6498.20 crores during the period from February to May, 2017.
Later, ED registered a separate case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against Modi and others.